The Streets - Everything is Borrowed

2009-03-17 08:17
Everything is Borrowed
What exactly is a working class hero supposed to rap about now that he's got more bling, babes and Benjamins than he could ever have imagined? Um, how the 'art' of the emcee is the only antidote to his 'mundane' upper class existence, maybe? Nope. He covered that back in 2006 on the inane celebrity self pity pot, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living.

No, after three albums of misanthropic narcissism it's time to start rapping about more mature, meatier issues. Like the meaning of life: "I came to this world with nothing, and I'll leave with nothing but love, everything else is just borrowed" he sighs with an existential shrug on the chamber popped title rap. Or the after life: "I want to go to heaven for the weather, hell for the company!" he choruses, on the playful pub Nietzschean pop breeze "Heaven for the Weather".

There was a time when such a pithy turn of phrase would've been hailed as 'next level'. But that was before Skinner's soapie verite styling was subsumed by that damn cider advert. Now, whether he's choosing life over suicide ("On the Edge of a Cliff"), sharing his thoughts on global warming ("The Way of the Dodo") or chasing skirt for old times sake ("Never Give In"), his trademark stream-of-consciousness rhymes and off-key crooning simply sound like a sales pitch.

His ordinary bloke spiel is slightly more convincing when he gets vulnerable on a sappy ballad about being in love, "The Strongest Person I Know". But that's the problem. He isn't the dude next door. He's a pop star. And it's this paranoid paradox that Mike Skinner's finally come to terms with. "I'm not full of fear 'cos I'm not really here" he confesses on the closing blue-eyed soul disclaimer "The Escapist". "I am not here at all, you are dearly fooled... No I'm not trapped in a box, so I am glancing at rocks, I'm dancing off docks, since this stance began that’s where I am."

"Do what you think’s right/And you will feel alright/'cos when you are bad you'll feel sad/That's the religion I live by" sermonises Mike Skinner on a symphonic rap critique of religious hypocrisy called "Alleged Legends". It's a preachy bit of feelgood philosophising that epitomises the predicament The Streets' rapper finds himself in.

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